WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Jaime Harrison of South Carolina raised a stunning $57 million in the third quarter of 2020 in his bid to unseat U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, his campaign said on Sunday, smashing the quarterly record for a Senate candidate.
The fundraising haul by Harrison, a former chairman of the state party, blew past the previous quarterly record of $38.1 million set by former Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke during his unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate bid in Texas.
It also is likely to increase Harrison’s financial advantage over Graham, who was once considered a sure bet to be elected to a fourth term in the U.S. Senate but is now facing a desperate fight for political survival.
Recent polls have shown a tight race between Harrison and Graham, who ran against President Donald Trump in the 2016 White House Republican primary but is now one of his closest allies in Congress. Trump won South Carolina by 14 percentage points in 2016.
The South Carolina seat could be pivotal in the battle for control of the Senate. If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the White House, Democrats need to pick up a net three seats in the Nov. 3 election to gain control of the Senate.
Graham has not reported his third-quarter fundraising yet. He raised $8.4 million in the second quarter and has openly pleaded with supporters to help with donations. He told Fox News recently he was “getting overwhelmed” financially.
Harrison’s fundraising haul was driven by contributions from 994,000 donors, his campaign said. He has now raised $86 million in the cycle.
The Graham campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Bill Berkrot)